As I am now in a client facing role, there are enough moments that make me laugh out loud, wonder in surprise and also introspect. Recently, I met an old client (most of my clients fit that age group) who was using this time of no financial responsibilities to see the world and spend on indulgences that he might not have had the appetite for in earlier years. He was also responsible to get the operational bits right for his wife’s money though she took the final call when it came to it. He feigned some annoyance about having to manage her money and asked me if I have my husband manage my money. My response was a vehement “not a chance”. While that conversation ended there, it made me realize how strong my opinions are today and I decided to jot down just five money must-dos for women.
Have a separate account for your money
While a controversial opinion, I really believe that women should try and not let life get in the way of earning their bread, however little. Today, there are a lot of freelancing jobs that allow to make some money from home. I believe this is important to give women an identity separate from their house and family. I could be biased as this is an opinion constantly pounded into my head by my mother, for which I am grateful.
Even if women are not earning, having an account separate from your husband or a joint household account is of utmost importance. Not only does it give a sense of security but it also teaches an important skill of money management.
Learn the basics of financial literacy
While I know you might be wondering what is new in this and how it holds true for everyone irrespective of gender, I have seriously seen the resistance a lot of women put up to learning about it. A lot has to do with the social conditioning that happens in childhood where women are molded to believe that they are not good at maths. I can count two old couples among my clients, meeting whom leaves me with a happy glow of seeing the ladies as keenly involved in their separate portfolios.
Save and grow thy money
Whatever money you can save, be it from your salary or household expenses, ensure you invest it too. Don’t even get me started on why women must invest on their own. Investment is something I wish everyone, especially women were taught as they are taught to take care of a household. It is increasingly an important survival instinct.
Be equally involved in your family’s financial decisions
I have met a lot of high-earning women who talk about how their husband earns the money that is needed to run the household while their money is considered as their own pocket money. Call me one with strong opinions but I find such a statement pretty distasteful. Even if you are not working, I consider it as a responsibility to be involved in joint household financial decisions. When we expect men to contribute in the housework, it goes equally that we should then get involved in the more complicated aspects as well.
As for the selfish reason, there are enough and more cases where only after an extreme incident like divorce do women realize what shambles their financial state is or even if they have been cheated. Ensure you are not in a position to be taken for a ride, ever.
Ensure you plan for retirement
Two big reasons make retirement planning a far more important pursuit for women than for men. Firstly, on average women have a proven longer life expectancy. Secondly, women earn far lesser in their lifetime thanks to breaks in the career as well as the gender pay gap. So what can you do about it? Start early for one. More importantly, whenever you start, ensure you are able to project the path from time to time, make conservative calculations and keep saving enough to make your golden period a happy one.
For generations, women have had to be dependent on men for money. Today, when we have the privilege of choosing to go out there and earn it for ourselves, let’s also ensure we respect the other side of that coin and take upon us the responsibilities that come with it as well.
Is there anything that women must remember when it comes to money that I might have missed out on? Do let me know in the comments below.