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Month: March 2017

Why it is important for women to be financially savvy!

Why it is important for women to be financially savvy!

“To be a financially savvy woman, you don’t have to like tracking your numbers. You just have to do it.” ~ Patti Fagan

We are almost at the end of this financial year (31st March in India) as I sit to pen this blog post. Last few weeks I had to ensure all taxes are paid, income tax returns are filed, tax-saving deductions are done under Section 80C….Its time to review my investments. How are my mutual funds looking? The stock markets are high and volatile so have to plan well. I am in the midst of preparing my personal budget for the new financial year. Have to factor inflation rate plus increase in school fees….

Few years ago, all this would have been completely Greek and Latin for me. I barely had any idea about the financial jargon. When you have never handled your money on your own and are left-brain challenged, personal finances can seem daunting. Most of us Indian girls coming from a sound economic background are usually raised in way where the money matters are completely looked after by the father (and brother if there is) and after marriage by the husband (and the father-in-law if applicable). Traditionally, men have always taken care of the financial aspect in a relationship. No questions asked, all in good trust and faith.

Flash back to the time when I was faced with my divorce. And with it came all the challenges of handling not only my own finances but also that of my minor daughters. The girl who had mainly worked with paintbrushes and pens was now compelled to look at numbers and excel sheets, big time. A single woman and a single mom put together in a situation where there was no choice but to take control.

Learning the ropes of everything around money did not come easy. It continues to be a process of constant education till date. But I am so glad to have been thrown into the situation, else I probably wouldn’t have learnt as much. A lot of women I know have no clue about their own finances simply ‘cos there has not been any need to learn. One of my aunts had no idea about the medical policy details when my uncle was hospitalised in an emergency. A close friend does not know how net banking works. An older mom I know was clueless about her income tax statement and regrets not learning.

I believe it’s very important for every woman to be financially savvy. Here’s why:

  • Self-respect: When a woman equips herself with financial knowledge, she is able to control her money well. That fills her with self-confidence and puts her in charge. It is critical for her own survival skills when crisis befalls. When she can hold her own in a financial situation, her self-respect takes a huge leap.
  • Key decision-making: It is generally the woman in the family who knows the family spends. Home management, paying for the children’s education and activities, shopping requirements, bills, etc. are usually in her domain of responsibilities. If she is financially smart, money management will be easier and it will augur well for better decision-making.
  • Sense of ownership: You know your money well, you own it, you have a sense of responsibility. The onus is on you – to save, to lose, to spend. Even if you make mistakes, they will serve as lessons. But the sense of complete ownership is wonderful. No one can take you for a ride or cheat you when you know how things work.
  • Exercising your choice: There are several modes of investments to allot your money. It helps you to make an informed choice when you are aware of your funds and financial needs at different stages. Organising and systematic planning comes very easily to women, especially mothers. She can use these skills effectively for taking important financial decisions.
  • Sense of freedom: In most cases, money is the tool that allows us to enjoy the varied pleasures of life. If a woman is financially smart about her money choices, she need not wait for anyone’s permission or approval. She can indulge in whatever her heart desires. Now that feeling can be truly very liberating!

You must ask yourself – how well do I know my money?

 

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2017: Theme reveal

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2017: Theme reveal

“Challenges are what makes life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” ~Joshua Marine

When I first read about the #AtoZChallenge for bloggers, of churning out a blog post in an alphabetical chronology almost every single day for 26 days in a month (except Sundays), I said to myself, ‘I cant do it. Its hard enough finding time writing a post every week, every day seems way too daunting!’ But then me and my affinity towards challenges got me pondering…at all the possibilities of participating. What it would mean to be a part of joining so many bloggers in this online event. What a wonderful platform it could be to reach out to more readers. How exciting it would be to have accomplished a difficult feat.

I am plunging in. No looking back now.

The next question – My theme! What do I give my readers that which is valuable to take away? In an alphabetical chronology? Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to figure.

One thing that has been constant in my life is my love for reading. And particularly during crisis moments in life, I read everything I could get my hand on about surviving, healing, self-help, parenting, single-parenting, personal growth…the list goes on. The process opened me to seek a deeper connection with the divine forces of the universe. Unlocking my channels for spiritual growth. Leading me on to a path of self-discovery, in a quest for life’s true purpose.

I would love to share with you- all the learning that has touched my soul and built me into who I am. Of positive inspirations and influences. The books, the authors, the experiences – everything that has enriched my journey so far. And while I do so, I am excited to revisit all of that and perhaps take away something valuable again.

Join in. Stay connected for a fast-paced alphabetical blogging month ahead!

Questions behind academic marks and children’s success

Questions behind academic marks and children’s success

“Intelligence is not measured by the ability to score high marks in studies, but to score high marks in life.” ~ Bryan

Final exams in school are done, we are on a short break before children begin the next academic year and I have to brace myself for the soon to be declared results. Now here’s an honest confession – one area of parenting that I have difficulty accepting myself with is that of my children’s academic performance.

A mom’s challenge

As a struggling single mother, I have asked myself hopelessly –

Am I a successful mom only if my kids shine academically?

Are my expectations of their academic excellence valid just cos I was a good student?

Am I a failure if they refuse my help in studies even though I can add value?

Is being self-driven innate or can be instilled?

Do all children have to be academically inclined?

I think to myself – it is painful to see them under perform when you know they have better potential to unleash. How can I inspire?

Parental Pressure 

Every year we read stories on student suicides, of not been able to live up to their own expectations and that of their elders. Of breaking down and giving up. Often children are put on a guilt trip to do well for parents so they can proudly announce to the society. Are we conditioning them to study for us? They are not our trophies to be displayed for our pride, are they? Shouldn’t it be more about them taking an onus for their life?

I am not in favour of putting undue pressure of marks, as a child I know how burdened it felt to study that way. Yes, I do wish to see them do their best in academics. But I want them do it for themselves and not just for me. To emphasise that they bear the consequences of their efforts.

On a different level, I know they went through a lot of pain seeing their parents divorce. It may have affected their confidence and performance. The fact that they have faced it all with maturity and unflinching love in their hearts is in itself a huge achievement. To see them deal with everything consequential only fills me with great pride. Their good or bad marks can never alter my unconditional love for them.

Questioning our academic system

Top ranking students get most attention in school and praise in society. Marks are used to judge the capability of a student. It creates some sort of divide amongst the students unfortunately. Not all children are academically brilliant and may have other talents in extra-curricular activities.

I am glad that both my children have excelled in district level sports championships, been a part of their school teams and also won laurels in dance and singing competitions. But that does not bear much significance at the end of the day when only marks are given value in our education system. Why do their non-academic talents seem trivial if children do not score good marks?

“Success in life does not necessarily originate with academic success.” -Robert Sternberg

We do realise that marks are not necessarily the only measure of their intelligence. Academic success does not equate to a child’s success in life. That her being a topper does not essentially guarantee a fulfilling career. Or a happy life ahead. Our obsession with marks is to be condemned. Even worse, our tendency to compare them with other kids.

Focusing on life skills

My older kid has scored far better in the last two academic years than she had earlier. I believe the key is to inspire them to be self-motivated and self-disciplined. To recognise their strengths and figure ways to hone them. Inculcating the habit of delayed gratification and learn time management. Building confidence needs to be emphasised over accumulating marks by rote learning.

“Preserving their self-esteem is far more important than preserving their mark-sheets!”

The true winner

As adults, we realise that what helps us sustain in life is how we apply our education. Failure is not poor marks but the inability to learn from our mistakes and move forward. True success is to know your purpose and live a life in tune with it. Nothing is as fulfilling than to find your passion and make a living out of it. At the end of the day, it is to remember that being a good human being far surpasses all material possessions and professional success one garners.

If my children grow up to be compassionate adults, respectful, peaceful at heart, leading a healthy fulfilling life, I would have succeeded as a mom.

Sharing a couple of impressive ads I saw lately for us parents to ponder on:

https://youtu.be/pTdXVmgC3us

 

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