“ If you save me today I save you tomorrow” says money.
Being finance oriented is watching your money closely and as truly said what is nurtured grows. Though we quite often hear that love is dearer than money, have we ever heard that a hug could pay off our bills? Money is important and financial prudence is more important. More than how much money you make, it is how much money you keep, and how it works for you is important. It is rightly said that it is not your earning that makes you rich, it is your saving and spending that speaks volumes about your financial balance.
Men and women both face financial challenges, it lies on one’s individual capability to overcome them. The challenge for a man is to be the master, the bread winner for the family and the financial supporter for the family as traditions for centuries have spelt out clearly. For women the society has for centuries categorized as one who cooks and cares for the family. While a daughter is brought up, she is educated on housework, so that she can be a good wife, daughter-in-law and mother for the family. Financial independence is the least lesson she grows up learning. The financial challenge springs up from this very upbringing a girl goes through though we see times are changing.
It was found in a survey conducted by AARP that women between age group of 40 to 79 have gone through major financial turbulence like divorce, widowhood, losing jobs, retirement etc., leaving scars for not being financially literate. Women also earn less in comparison to their male counterpart and many women have to sacrifice their career for home and children.
While I interacted with women I got mixed responses on their ability to manage finances. While few were confident about managing their finances by setting financial goals, prudent investments, following a proper budget, there were many who had left it for their spouses to manage their personal finance. For women in general, lack of financial literacy, break in their career, over dependence on male members were reasons that posed financial challenges.
I spoke to Smitha , mother of two children who surprised me by saying, “Being a housewife , raising my children and managing home doesn’t in any way restrict me from saving or watching how I spend money. In fact, I have more time to plan my investments and feel financially responsible as I run my home.” On the contrary Vidya, who works with an MNC, said, “I just handover my salary to my husband and he decides on all financial matters. I keep myself out of them”.
While we may expect a homemaker to be less aware of finances, it was a career woman who gave me the shock that she cares less for how finances are managed. I attribute this also to mindset. But it is high time women woke up to realise that they have a huge role to play in bringing financial balance to themselves and their families. It is important to choose your financial destiny as a woman and not let the outdated thought that the man of the house alone is responsible.
Steffi who works for an educational institution seemed super confident about maintaining a logbook on spending. She also spoke about having clear short-term and long-term financial goals. Amazing for a woman in her 20s to be super confident about her financial plans while Latha, another working professional, feels lazy to even try it out or Radha, who feels the family is always there to take care of finances. Careful budgeting, planning saving options, insurance policy, working on retirement plans are essential steps for a healthy financial future for every woman and this has to begin when they are young.
Financial responsibility is not gender specific, it is imperative for women as it is for men. Financial challenges that women face can be overcome with certain wise actions such as:
● If one is not aware of how to invest, it is never too late to learn the art of investing.
● Look for friends and relatives who can provide good advice on investments and financial planning. Seeking support adds to strength and overcome ones’ weakness.
● Be part of the money plan and be more active in taking financial decisions.
● Be ready with a budget that lists your assets, income and expenses that becomes a ready reckoner of your financial position.
● Analyze for well-being of oneself and family money spent on life insurance, health or Mediclaim policies, income protection plans etc.
It is understandable that influencing the society to change its mindset is going to be tough, and transforming workplaces to treat women at par is not easy, but women taking financial control and managing their finances is the best choice a woman has. Only women themselves can bring a difference through wise investment, increasing their confidence and enjoying the financial freedom through money management skills.
The author is the Director of ITM Business School, Kharghar