Women are the strongest part of a family and have better management skills. In fact, women often tend to have better money savings skills than men. Traditionally, India has been a savings-focused nation and the household savings rate of the country is pretty high. The responsibility of this can be attributed to the lady of the house, who habitually relies on traditional methods like accumulating hard cash, putting money in a basic savings account or at the most depositing cash in a recurring deposit account.
Even today, the scenario remains the same at least for some.
For Amrita Mukherjee, a Bangalore-based homemaker, saving up a certain sum of money every week in a piggy bank is a huge thing. She manages to do this by changes she receives from grocery shopping and some amount given to her as pocket money by her spouse. Even in such circumstances Mukherjee dreams of buying gold someday.
Contrast to this is Maitrayee Dutta, a Kolkata-based marketing professional who takes her own investment decisions. While on the other hand we have women like Ananya Mallik, yet another Kolkata-based professional who continues to rely on her spouse while it comes to taking investment decisions.
It is a hard-hitting fact that breeds like Dutta comprise a miniscule percentage of the country’s women population. Most of them happen to be like Mallik who despite being employed, rely heavily either on their fathers or spouses while taking investment decisions.
“Not that women cannot do it. But they tend to avoid it because they know that either their fathers or their spouses will do it for them”, says Mumbai-based digital media professional Shreyoshi Dutta.
On the other hand, Mallik says “I guess men are better off when it comes to dealing with numbers and stuff like taxes and investments. Many women tend to find finance a rather dry subject.”
Most women, especially homemakers are either never involved in financial decisions or are informed only when the decision has been finalised. A few lucky ones might be a part of a joint-decision venture.
Sadly, the social fabric of the country is to be blamed for this, where men are taught to be more prudent financially from an early age owing to the ‘responsibilities’ they will have to shoulder later in life. Conventional gender roles tend to define men as breadwinners and women as the nurturers. The scenario is same even in so called “progressive” India.
Even advertisements by financial services companies incline to target women consumers less as compared to men. It is owing to these reasons that women tend to take a backseat while it comes to financial investments.
So how do women begin to invest safely and wisely? Some of the simplest ways by which women can begin to start investing safely and wisely may include the following:
The first step towards women becoming financially independent is to educate yourselves about finance. Try to read as much as possible about personal finance and schemes available in the market. Various magazines and apps on personal finance are available that provide an insight into managing wealth smartly. Alternately, workshops and courses are available online free of cost. Resort to these resources and learn as much as possible. Educating yourselves and asking questions is the only way to go about this.
The earlier you start saving, the better it is. And you can always choose to start with small amounts of money. Various low-risk options such as bank recurring deposits (RDs) and Public Provident Fund (PPF) are great options. The amount needed to invest can start with as low as Rs. 500 a year (for PPF)! PPF also offers tax benefits on a maximum amount of Rs. 1,50,000 annually. Large amounts of money, for example Rs. 10,0,000 or above can be deposited in Fixed Deposit (FD) accounts. Depending upon the amount and maturity period, FDs can end up yielding an interest anywhere between five to eight per cent per annum.
While simple and small investments are great to start with, its important to grow your money, to evolve your portfolio as you go along. Terms like stocks, mutual funds, systematic investment plans (SIPs) may sound intimidating initially, but it’s all about knowledge and education. Once you have learnt enough about these and understanding sets in, things not only become easier, but the potential to multiply your money also increases. While you can resort to a host of online tutorials for educating yourself on these lines, you can always seek help from a good financial advisor.
Ignoring insurance is one of the biggest mistakes that women tend to make. Traditionally, the thought process tends to flow this way – the husband will buy a life cover for his family to ensure a better life for them after his passing. Thus, the wife may do away with a life insurance. On the other hand, women though have longer life expectancy than men, often tend to avoid opting for an individual medical insurance. This is because they are usually covered under medi-claim family policies held by parents or spouses. However, both health insurance and life insurance are essential to ensure financial security.
The above-mentioned points are just an outline about how to take baby steps towards investing. The necessity of managing one’s own finances can never be stressed enough. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step – so take that one step and start investing now.