My Money, My Way
I loved my mother’s way of thinking – she shared a joint account with my father where his salary came. But the account where her salary came was her account. She may not have been in charge of the big savings my father did, but her own money – and whatever she saved from household expenses – she kept control of. And this came in handy often.
Our money and my money
I have also followed the same principle – his money being our money and my money being my money. But where I disagree with my mother’s financial planning is that I am actively trying to take my money out of my savings account where it sits idle, and investing it. When I had my baby, I took a sabbatical and it resulted in a loss of income. But having planned for it, I have saved enough to ensure a steady flow of money for my needs. You must too, plan for any eventuality that may result in a sudden stop in income flow. As it is, women in India are working in an environment where the gender pay gap is estimated at 24.81%. So doesn’t it make more sense to ensure that whatever you earn is invested in a manner where it can fetch you the best returns?
Taking charge of your money needs to become second nature. After all, you are taking all your major life decisions for yourself. No one knows about your financial planning, your goals, your needs better than you. So find a Financial Doctor and talk to her as you would to a medical doctor. Sure, we are all not experts in every field. There is no harm in taking advice from an expert.
Even if you are consulting an expert, do try and read up on financial matters and investment issues before you commit to anything. Especially if you are talking to bank agents as they are likely to show you only the big picture. They might miss out on the fine print like no exit clauses, lock-in periods, taxes due. So go in armed with knowledge, ask questions and don’t commit to any long term plan without sleeping on it. Things are always clearer in the morning.
The emotional quotient
As a woman, you are more aware of what your family needs. Setting financial goals while keeping the emotional quotient relevant is something you can do. Be it a family holiday, your child’s expensive coaching classes, the braces you know your daughter needs, expenses on caring for the family elders – all these are issues you can recognise and plan for.
Longer life expectancy
The reality today is that women live longer than men. Just for this one reason alone, you need to be aware of the entire investment strategy of your family. The trauma of losing a spouse can often be compounded by the practical need to take charge of the finances if you have not been doing so all along. When you lose a spouse you may also end up with a reduced income – reduced pension or loss or salary.
The woman’s touch is not a myth. Your hand in your family’s financial planning will not only yield results but also give you the satisfaction of seeing a seed you planted mature into a bountiful tree.